HR managers can implement numerous green initiatives in the workplace

HR and best eco-friendly practices: promoting sustainability within your company

Making your organisation greener brings an array of benefits both for ecology and the company itself

According to the Global Footprint Network, mankind is using almost 2 times more resources and producing more waste than the planet can regenerate and absorb: we are using tomorrow’s resources to satisfy today’s needs. With the climate change and sustainability agenda inevitably entering the picture, the companies across the globe now more than ever take a greater interest in scaling down their environmental impact and implementing an eco-friendly sustainable business strategy. This shift towards raising green corporate awareness creates an urgent challenge – businesses need to understand how to adopt sustainability approach on all fronts and engage the employees in the office green initiatives.

Even though some bigger enterprises have dedicated CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) officers that manage such policies, in most cases motivating sustainability-conscious behaviour is an assignment given to HR managers. In fact, according to a human resources expert and author Elaine Cohen, HRs play a crucial role in companies’ sustainability efforts. In her book “CSR for HR: A Necessary Partnership for Advancing Responsible Business practices”, she says that “the true role of the HR professional is to help convert the sustainability impacts of an organisation on employees into positive sustainability impacts of employees.” It means that involving your staff in your office eco-friendly routine is a fundamental part of a well-thought “Green HRM” (human resources management) policy that, in its turn, has a deep imprint not only on the company’s environmental impact itself, but also on its values, general employees’ motivation and, ultimately, corporate reputation and employee value proposition.

Which are the basic steps you should take to bring your company to the next greener level?

  • Choose being paperless

One of the simplest policies to implement is to opt for all digital and cut out the enormous paper waste the offices usually create. Kick it off with introducing corporate apps, storing memos, manuals and other documents online, suggesting less printing, and organising paper recycling. If printing is really a necessity, advise your staff to make the most of both sides of the paper, reuse the unwanted sheets, and avoid colour printing. Another lifehack – print in a draft quality mode: this way, the printer will slightly lighten the shade while keeping the content still readable. Also, buy the office paper wisely: order chlorine-free sheets that contain a high percentage of recycled elements. There is more paper in your office than you think: install air dryers in the bathroom to curtail the paper towels waste.

  • Encourage environment-friendly transportation

Motivating your employees to choose biking or public transport is an important step in your sustainability policy. To encourage riding a bike to work, however, you should consider building a secure bike parking area, offering showers and private changing spaces. If your company provides the employees with corporate cars, insist on purchasing or taking on lease the last generation hybrids.

  • Ban single-use plastics

The “Plastic-free” policy is a linchpin of modern sustainability strategies. Provide your staff with reusable dishes, cutlery and glasses to use in the office kitchen (and encourage the effort to keep it clean). Replace the vending machines’ bottled water with installed 5-gallon water coolers that draw from the tap water supply and after a thorough filtration distribute clean well-tasting water.

  • Consume less electrical energy

Saving energy has a far-reaching positive environmental impact. Ask your employees to turn off their PCs, screens, and lights when leaving. Opt for compact fluorescent bulbs, as they are more potent and are more durable than the traditional ones. You can go even further and suggest your contracts and procurement department getting electricity from a green innovative company that generates energy from wind or other alternative sources.

  • Involve employees in volunteer opportunities

Corporate eco-friendliness does not mean keeping sustainability policies within the office walls. As an HR manager, you can engage your people in a range of green volunteer opportunities. Some of these initiatives are held after work or on the weekends, others take place during the working hours. Allow your employees to participate and spend a paid day helping the community become greener. These initiatives will boost your staff morale and broaden their positive impact beyond the work space.

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